Bill Moyers: ‘We’re Almost Out of Time’
Posted on May 18, 2011
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On this week’s episode of Truthdig Radio in collaboration with KPFK: the great Bill Moyers on the desperate state of our democracy, Nomi Prins on the scandalous IMF and Cole Miller on grass-roots philanthropy.
0:35 - Nomi Prins
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Peter Scheer This is Truthdig Radio, bringing you the best interviews and commentary from Truthdig.com and KPFK. On this week’s show, Cole Miller on grass-roots philanthropy and the great Bill Moyers on the desperate state of our democracy. But first, Nomi Prins on the IMF’s lesser-known scandals.
Kasia Anderson: This is Kasia Anderson. I’m associate editor at Truthdig, and we’re pleased—I’m also here with Bob Scheer—we’re pleased to be speaking with Nomi Prins. And she is a financial expert and author of “It Takes a Pillage.” And she also is proprietress of NomiPrins.com. And today we want to talk about the IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn—and not just about the kind of splashy headlines that we’ve been getting about him in recent days, but also a little bit more about his background at the IMF—which, Nomi, as I gather, you have a little different take on than some of the articles that have been coming out about him.
Nomi Prins: Yeah. I think the main thing is these articles that have been coming out, for the most part, have fallen into two categories. One is all the details, or alleged details, about what’s gone on in New York. And the second is about whether his absence from the IMF is going to keep them from creating bailout packages for the periphery countries in Europe, including Greece and Portugal. And all of them are really not focused on what the IMF has done, both under Dominique Strauss-Kahn and will continue to do without him. Because the main mission of the IMF, as he led it and as it stands today, and as it has been before he was present, is really to extract severe austerity measures from struggling countries in return for loans. And in particular, recently, the loans … what have been considered bailouts very much like our own, are going to bail out the banking systems and the financial markets of some of these countries—of Greece, of Portugal, of Ireland—and to pay for that, cut pension funds and wages and social services for the population that had nothing to do with the financial destruction caused by the global banking system.
Kasia Anderson: Right. And you have experience, as I gather, from Bear Stearns in Europe, kind of before the big economic meltdown, and also from just kind of a political-economic viewpoint. Since DSK, as we may call him now, is also someone who’s being viewed as, or was being viewed as, a potential leader of France in the future, before this alleged sexual assault happened, what do you think that his … maybe some misconceptions about what he might bring to France might be, in lieu of what you were saying about his leadership of the IMF?
Nomi Prins: Well, ironically, he’s been considered—you know, despite, also, past allegations of sexual misconduct as well—to be, yeah, in the running for leading France for the socialist side, the socialist party of France. Which, to me, is a little ironic given that what he has done at the IMF—and again, it’s keeping with the IMF’s philosophy in general—is really extract severe economic pain from people and from public programs for two main reasons. One, because I think he was considering the move to lead France, and being at the head of the IMF—which has always been led by a core European political person; I mean, it’s always been a stepping stone in and out of other types of political careers. And it’s tended to be run by a Euro-elite, or basically someone from France or Germany or a country that’s sort of allied with them from an economic standpoint, as opposed to any other country. But he basically very much promoted the idea that austerity measures should be enacted in return for bailout funds. And the result of that in some of the countries has been quite devastating. In Greece, for example, where there are renewed protests in the streets, and there were a year ago when its initial bailout package was being addressed, the unemployment there is over 14½ percent on average. It’s over 35 percent for the youth of the country. It’s similar in Ireland, at 14.7 percent; Ireland got a bailout package from the IMF constructed, you know, among other people, by DSK. And it’s been in more pain. And the reason these countries are in pain to begin with was because of their own banks and the international community, international capital and banks that basically pillaged and speculated when they could and then ran for the hills when things got bad in the end of 2008. So these countries basically are struggling and being given what’s called a bailout, but it’s really a loan to give cheap money to banks—very similar to what’s happening here—in return for cutting moneys from the public. And that’s something that’s not very socialistic. [Laughs] So it’s, it’s … so even though he was sort of slated for that role and grooming himself for that role in France, the reality is that France, and Germany, as sort of the elite core of Europe, have always used these periphery countries for purposes of speculation and investment. And it was like this before the euro was—came together in 1999; there was always these big capitalist trades going on between the sort of core European countries—France, Germany—and the external ones, like Spain and Italy, back then. And it’s really what we’re … 12 years on from that, 11 years on from that, and not much has changed, except we’ve had a couple of bank crises and currency crises in between.
Kasia Anderson: We’re going to have to end on that note. Once again, this is Kasia Anderson, associate editor of Truthdig. I’ve been here with Robert Scheer and Nomi Prins, author of “It Takes a Pillage” and proprietress of NomiPrins.com. You can hear the rest of this interview on Truthdig.com.
Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer in studio with Josh Scheer and Cole Miller, who is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families. Thanks for joining us.
Cole Miller: Thanks for having me.
Peter Scheer: And I should say, we spoke earlier about a rather dark vision of how human rights groups are exploited in the pursuit of war. And we’re now moving to a more positive vision of how human rights groups try to address some of the tragedies of war. Can you just sort of sum up what your organization does?
Cole Miller: Well, what we’ve done for the last—well, actually, since 2002, is identify children who are injured by U.S. forces—that’s an important element; by U.S. forces—and then we connect their medical reports with communities in the United States that have expressed an interest in organizing medical relief for those kids. Then we work to evacuate the children, bring them to the United States, where they get medical care that is unavailable to them in Iraq. And of course, things are changing; it’s changed a lot since we started, back before the invasion. But it’s still an urgent, urgent need that the Iraqi people have in the face of what we’ve done to their country. And so I—we encourage people to become involved.
Peter Scheer: How difficult is it to get people here? I mean, I guess it’s—I would guess it’s expensive and difficult to deal with visas, and that kind of thing.
Cole Miller: Well, it’s expensive; it’s less expensive now than it was previously, because there were no consular services in Iraq, so people couldn’t go to the U.S. Embassy, for example, in Iraq and get visas; now they can. So we would have to evacuate them to a third country—usually Jordan, once Kuwait—and then bring them to the United States. It is expensive; it’s time-consuming; it takes a lot of dedication. But the benefits are that children—let me just tell you a little story about, you know…
Peter Scheer: Sure.
Cole Miller: … your father was mentioning that he wanted this story told. That there’s a little boy named Mustafa Abed. And on November 3rd, 2004, one day before our election, in softening up bombing in Fallujah, he was hit and he lost about a quarter of his body. He was about 2 years old at the time; blew off his leg, his hip, most of his pelvis. And when they walked into the hospital with him, one person was carrying a bundle of his intestines in a blanket, and another person was carrying the boy’s body. And they were walking as close together as they could. Now, they thought that the boy had no chance of survival. But miraculously, they managed to save his life. Over the course of the intervening period before we got to him he had, also, nerve damage that caused him to develop kidney stones and bladder stones. And when we got him here, he had a bladder stone the size of a large egg. Now, a kidney stone—a tiny kidney stone will put a linebacker on his back screaming in agony. This kid, for four years, had to endure incredibly intense pain, periodic pain, all the time. You know? Until we got him here. We got him here; he had to receive emergency medical treatment up in Portland, Ore.; they had to remove one of his kidneys, which failed; they managed to save his other kidney; and he has been pain-free ever since. And he’s learning how to walk on a prosthetic. But if you think about the magnitude of what was done to that boy, first we go in and we blow a quarter of his body off. And then, in the intervening four years, nobody provided for that child. Not the Iraqi government; not the American military; not the American authorities. Nobody provided for that child. So he had to suffer that agony for those four years, and would have died in agony had it not been for the concern and generosity of that community in Portland. So that’s just one of the kids. And you know, you ask yourself how many thousands of children are there out there in just that situation? How many thousands have been left to die in excruciating pain, when just—you know—OK, let’s say that the damage is done, the bomb’s been dropped, the kid’s been hurt. Then you might try to alleviate that suffering by intervening, medically. Didn’t happen.
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